Sunderland and South Tyneside health chiefs tell hospital visitors to wear masks and not to visit if they feel unwell

Hospital visitors in Sunderland and South Tyneside will be required to wear facemasks, NHS bosses have confirmed as they look to combat a rise in winter viruses.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has issued the guidance along with a plea asking those who need to attend hospital to only bring one other person with them.

A statement from the Trust said: “Given the rise in winter viruses circulating, anyone coming in to visit patients at South Tyneside District Hospital or Sunderland Royal Hospital will be required to wear a facemask. Visitors will be reminded to wash their hands thoroughly before and after they enter any wards or other clinical areas.

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"The Trust is also asking people who need to attend hospital to only bring one other person with them, if possible. This is to help stop the spread of winter illnesses.”

People visiting hospitals in Sunderland and South Tyneside are once again required to wear face masks.

It comes as staff look to manage an increase in patients with flu and other respiratory illnesses, including Covid, who are being admitted to hospital in the run-up to Christmas.

People are also asked not to visit South Tyneside District Hospital or Sunderland Royal Hospital if they they have a cough, cold or flu like symptoms, sickness or diarrhoea in the past 48 hours or have tested positive for Covid in the past seven days.

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Deputy Director of Nursing at the Trust, Diane Palmer, said: "We are appealing for everyone’s support as we are seeing lots of flu and other winter illnesses going around at the moment.

"If you do plan to visit a loved one in hospital over the coming days, please make sure you are fit and well yourself and make sure you wear a facemask.

"The last thing we want is for any winter viruses to be passed onto our patients who are already very sick and in hospital this Christmas or to visitors. We want to make sure our staff are protected too and you will see our teams wearing face masks a lot more through this winter period."

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The appeal comes a week after North East vaccines chief, Professor Neil Watson, urged eligible people to get their Covid booster jab as figures revealed a low uptake in both Sunderland and South Tyneside.